The “mixture of highly capitalised art, gentrification, and brain-drain towards abandoned city territories”, as suggested in Hausdorf and Goller’s “Superstructural Berlin”, does make up most of the basis, from which the newly transformed Berlin emerges. The Berlin that everyone knows: blooming and overwhelming with its galleries, dappled with cafes and nightclubs, riddled with history, Berlin and its spirit is conveyed through architecture, markets, opening nights, neon signs and exhibition posters. This kaleidoscope of events and places itself, is Berlin.
However, it wasn’t always like this. Berlin had to come a long way before acquiring its current form. As Katy Derbyshire points out, the notion of Berlin “draws heavily on the myth of the Roaring Twenties, the heady Weimar era”, which in certain ways is similar to the image that Berlin has today. The Weimar “hedonist paradise”, however, was set against the backdrop of poverty, struggle and despair of those less fortunate, which, perhaps, was the very reason, why the city had changed in this precise way.
The modern cultural life of the city doesn’t feel like it is excluding anyone, at the very least, so far the “Berlin experience” did not prove otherwise. However, one could assume that pleasure and misery always go hand by hand, but the strife for an including, open society here has been pushed further than anywhere else. It’s not just about “freedom” as a concept, it’s about how freedom should be accessible to anyone. Does this mean, that Berlin is free of social and financial struggle? Of course not. It may be that the emphasis on culture attracts so many tourists, that the slums of Berlin are not immediately visible through crowds of people taking pictures, nor do the beaten tracks lead there.
Nonetheless, it does feel like the “image” of Berlin has shifted significantly from the Weimar myth, especially that the emphasis now is on creativity, rather than sheer pleasure. This can be seen not only in the prominent art sphere, but also in other places: from the entrepreneurial aspect, to the unceasing change of the city ― to survive a system must evolve and adapt to any and all new circumstances, and it feels like Berlin is most suited to do just that. “Constantly measuring and weighing Berlin against other cities” (Hausdorf and Goller), cannot be sufficient in estimating its potential. Whereas it is possible to measure most of the resources, which are considered significant for a modern-day metropolis, measurement of qualities such as “adjustment” or “adaptation” proves to be almost impossible. Moreover, Berlin manages to produce an immense amount of Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural capital, which can be considered as one of its main exports ― and again, almost impossible to measure, so it’s just put under “tourism”, in order to make things less complicated.
But this tendency leaves Berlin underestimated, in a sense that many of its qualities as a system and as an entity, are overlooked and are not taken into account, whereas they do make up most of the basis, from which the newly transformed Berlin emerges. The Berlin, that carries scars of its past underneath the fancy and neat clothing ― a reminder of costs, at which this change comes.